The unusual move to muzzle election workers has already caused at least three volunteers who spoke to The Post to quit in protest.
“I think it’s shady,” said Ziad Doumani, a retired firefighter and student who lives in Henderson, Nev., and volunteered to run one of the caucuses. While Doumani himself has not been asked to sign the NDA — so far, it has been reserved for “site leaders” who have shown up to pick up the materials — he said the lack of transparency is disturbing. “Why can’t we talk about it? Why are they being so secretive?”
According to one of the volunteers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he feared retribution, state party officials refused to allow a site leader to walk out with his election materials unless he signed the NDA. At first, after the site leader complained, he was told by a staff member that signing the NDA was optional. But when the site leader said he did not intend to sign the document, a Democratic supervisor prohibited the person from picking up the materials he needed to conduct the caucus.
Molly Forgey, spokeswoman for the Nevada Democrats, said the NDAs are voluntary and said it was “standard practice to request staff and volunteers to sign an NDA because they are privy to strategic information.” Forgey declined to say why the agreement also included a nondisparagement clause.
A Democratic official with another state party, who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said it was not standard practice to ask volunteers to sign nondisclosure agreements.
Another site leader who spoke to The Post on the condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the Nevada Democratic Party signed the NDA on Thursday but had not read it and was not given a copy by the party.
The six-page document shared with The Post by another election volunteer requires them to stay mum about their election activities.
The Nevada caucuses have come under intense scrutiny after the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses turned into a debacle when a mobile app developed by a company called Shadow failed to properly tally the results. Nevada had planned to use a mobile app developed by the same company but scrapped that plan after the Iowa mishap.
In the weeks that followed, the Nevada Democratic Party, which is responsible for the caucuses here, has been scrambling to come up with a technological solution to a complicated process.
Nevada held early voting, and the caucus workers will have to incorporate those early votes with the in-person votes on Saturday.
The Democratic Party here had hoped to use technology to make that process less tedious. It’s in the process of distributing iPads equipped with software from Cisco Systems. Volunteers will use a Google Forms web app programmed to calculate the caucus math, including how many delegates should be awarded to each candidate.
Several caucus volunteers said the idea that some information should be kept secret is not unreasonable. Kevin Standlee, a volunteer in Reno, said he thinks the Democrats should keep secret hotline telephone numbers, for instance. Hotline phone numbers in Iowa were abused by pranksters after they were made public during the caucus, jamming the lines and preventing election results from being transmitted. He does not think an NDA is appropriate, however.
“I’m not planning on signing unless it’s made an absolute condition of continuing to chair my precinct,” he said in an email.